Top Factors that Affect the Quality of Ultrasound Images

Posted on: 8 October 2019


As an ultrasound technician, you play a critical role in helping doctors, and other health professionals diagnose ailments in patients. Thanks to advancements in health equipment technology, ultrasound technicians can produce accurate and high-quality images. However, technicians should understand that some external factors can significantly affect the quality of ultrasound images despite the current technological solutions. As such, special attention should be given to these factors to prevent inaccuracies in patient diagnosis. Here are some top factors that affect the quality of ultrasound images.  

Improper Transducer Placement -- One of the leading causes of ultrasound imaging quality distortion is improper scanning techniques applied by ultrasound technicians. Ideally, technicians should align the transducer at an optimal angle of insonation. The correct placement of the transducer ensures the beam approaches the sensor at a 90-degree angle, thereby making the target image optimal. Unfortunately, inexperienced ultrasound technicians sometimes use a suboptimal angle of insonation when placing the transducer on a patient's skin. Consequently, a significant portion of the returning ultrasound beam is transmitted away from the sensor, thus resulting in a suboptimal or degraded image of the target area.   

Muscle Atrophy -- Although some errors leading to poor ultrasound imaging quality are because of a technician, other elements are out of the hands of the sonographer. An excellent example is a patient with muscle atrophy, such as an older adult. Atrophied muscles pose a significant challenge to ultrasound technicians because they reflect ultrasound beams and appear as hyperechoic structures. It makes it challenging for the ultrasound beam to penetrate degenerated muscles, thereby obscuring deeper structures. If you encounter such a problem, it is advisable to discontinue the ultrasound procedure and find another location for ultrasound imaging.   

Air -- Unbeknownst to most newbie ultrasound technicians, the air is a critical factor that contributes to the quality of an ultrasound image. This is because air forms a barrier to sound. As such, air casts a shadowing effect on an image, thus degrading the quality of body tissue images captured. Therefore, a sonographer needs to know the source of air during ultrasound imaging. Pathological processes are arguably the leading cause of air presence between the transducer and the target tissues. Air injection during ultrasound-guided procedures is also another common cause of air presence during ultrasound imaging. The air microbubbles in the injected fluid reflect the ultrasound beam and obscure target and surrounding tissues, producing sub-standard images.   

For more information on ultrasounds, contact an ultrasound technician.